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Houses of (Ginger) Bread


The theme for dressing up at last night’s youth party was oblique references to the Nativity story – making a link but going a bit further than putting a tea towel on your head and calling yourself a shepherd. For my costume, I made a hat from a Pringles tube with this painting wrapped round it:

Houses of Gingerbread

Obscure enough? My reasoning was that it is easy to recognise gingerbread houses. When you put some houses together, you form a little town and you are probably already ahead of me in recognising the way the setting of the story is described in a well-loved carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem. I’ve even got the silent stars going by.

There’s more though. The ginger aspect is largely a red (orange?) herring but it does suggest two further things. First of all, gingerbread houses are miniature models, so ‘Little Town’ is reinforced. Most obscurely of all, Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’ (as Beth-el means ‘House of God’) and so we have the little town of the houses of bread. And, since it’s a Sunday, ponder the significance of the name. It was in a fertile region; when famine hit the area, Naomi and her family fled but she returned with her daughter-in-law Ruth later and they were both fed (Book of Ruth). Centuries later, Jesus was born there; out of Bethlehem, comes the Bread of Life.

The painting is on the back of a cereal packet. I used a watercolour blue-black I mixed up in the summer for the sky and other watercolours for the main colouring. The white was acrylic and, after taking this picture, I also coated it in acrylic wax which caused a small amount of colour bleeding but also protected the surface. Now to get it off the ‘hat’ and put it up on the wall as a decoration.

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